Transportation to and from school is a related service that must be included in a student’s IEP if the service is required for the student to benefit from special education. 34 CFR 300.34 (a). Additionally, a district may need to provide the related service of transportation to extracurricular activities, so the student has equal access to activities and receives FAPE. Troy Sch. Dist., 76 IDELR 142 (SEA MI 2019).
As districts phase back into in-person learning, administrators and educators may consider these strategies to promote inclusive transportation during and outside of the school day:
1. Expand ridership. School districts often provide “small bus” door-to-door transportation services for children with disabilities, but educators may explore options for integrating children with disabilities with nondisabled students. A key consideration during the pandemic would be maintaining social distancing in those options.
2. Use aides on buses. Many children with disabilities can ride nonspecialized school buses with support from an aide who may be an instructional assistant or volunteer, based on state and local policy. Some districts use other students to provide the service through a buddy system based on their state and local policies.
3. Incorporate bus stop monitors. For students who may need assistance going to the bus stop or waiting at the bus stop, consider adding a bus stop monitor who can be parents or community volunteers as allowed by state and local polices. Bus stop monitors can facilitate safe travel for all students. Ensure such monitors follow pandemic-related safety protocols mandated by your state or county.
4. Engage in positive behavioral support. Many schools implement positive behavioral support programs that include the integration of behavioral strategies on the bus.
Johnny Jackson covers special education issues for Special Ed Connection, a DA sister publication.